On Sept. 6 the American Red Cross sent a team to Dulles Airport to welcome about 300 Hurricane Katrina evacuees who were destined for the D.C. Armory [front page, Sept. 7]. I was the physician leader for the Red Cross team.
The D.C. Department of Health and private physicians did an impressive job of planning for the evacuees. David Rose, head of primary care in the Health Department, marshaled area resources to provide pediatric, adult and dental services.
The array of medical vans outside the armory was impressive. In addition to the Life-Star ambulances on standby, there were vans from Mary's Center, Georgetown University Hospital and Unity Health Care, the city's premier care provider for vulnerable patients.
D.C. hospitals and health care facilities also geared up to support the evacuees. Greater Southeast Community Hospital expanded services and offered housing to many of the most frail or mobility-impaired patients. The pharmacy and clinics at the D.C. General Hospital site expanded hours and services. Personnel in the emergency departments of Providence and Howard University hospitals saw shelter patients who were found to be medically unstable, mostly from not having received their medicines. Children's Hospital, Washington Hospital Center and George Washington University Hospital stood ready with specialty services.
The Medical Society of the District of Columbia, D.C. Medical Reserve Corps, and health professionals from the District and surrounding counties volunteered at the shelter. Physicians from Washington Psychiatric Society joined counselors from the D.C. Department of Mental Health and Red Cross mental health services to provide support to evacuees. Greater D.C. Cares and Red Cross volunteers arranged for toys and activities for the children.
Clearly, health issues remain for the evacuees. However, it was wonderful to see so many members of the area's health field come together to support this vulnerable group of citizens.
VICTOR G. FREEMAN
The writer is president of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia.